AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Despite a weeklong advertising blitz, Jordan canceled plans Saturday to broadcast a soap opera about Afghanistan after an Internet threat against everyone from actors to TV executives if the show portrayed the Taliban in a negative light.

The series – “Al-Tareeq ila Kabul,” Arabic for “The Road to Kabul” – chronicles life under Afghanistan’s former Taliban rulers and was to be aired during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began Friday in most Muslim countries.

The Middle East Broadcasting Corporation, based in Dubai, broadcast the first episode on Friday, and Jordanian television had promised the series would begin in the early days of Ramadan.

On Thursday, Jordanian television officials said the broadcast might be postponed for a few days because of technical problems. But on Saturday they canceled plans to show it.

The broadcast was “suspended indefinitely upon a request from its producer, the Qatari television,” Abdul-Halim Araibyat, director general of the state Jordan Radio and Television Corp. told The Associated Press.

He said Jordan’s decision to suspend the show was due only to the Qatari request and not to the threat. He didn’t know why the producers asked for the suspension and phones rang unanswered at Qatari television.

MBC was scheduled to air the second episode Saturday night, but it was unclear whether it would go ahead with the broadcast. No other Arabic television stations commented on the Qatari request.

The threat appeared Thursday on a Web site known as a clearinghouse for Muslim militant statements. Its authenticity could not be independently verified.

“We swear to the great God that if we see in the series anything other than the honorable reality of the Taliban … we will assault all those who participated in this sullied malice,” the statement read.

“We will strike, God willing, the centers of satellite stations, their correspondents … and we swear that nobody will slip from our hands – if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then in a month, or a year,” it said.

“We direct our strong warning to all who participated in producing this series, whether an actor, producer or cameraman,” the statement added.

Talal Adnan al-Awamleh, owner of the Jordanian firm that produced the series, said it was filmed mainly in Jordan and most of the cast was Jordanian. But he said Jordan didn’t take it off the air.

“Jordan is not responsible for suspending the broadcast. It’s the Qataris who have issued a statement to all the stations that bought it, asking them to suspend broadcast on unspecified technical and information grounds,” he said.

He said Jordan had no choice but to obey the producers.

The much-anticipated series portrays life in Afghanistan since the Soviet occupation, including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States and the subsequent U.S.-led invasion of the country, Awamleh said.

Other producers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the series revolves around an Afghan woman who goes to England to study and falls in love with an Arab man there.

She returns to her native country, where she faces pressure from the hard-line Taliban rulers, who force her to wear an all-enveloping burqa and prevent her from working, they said.

They said the series also depicts internal feuds among the Taliban but does not rebuke the thousands of Arabs who went to fight alongside the Taliban against the Soviets.

“The Road to Kabul” was filmed in Jordan, Pakistan and Cambridge, England, at a cost of $3 million, Awamleh said.

“It gives an objective overview of life in that country at different times,” he said.



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